Apple’s ‘Best of 2013' List: What are the Key Lessons?

POSTED BY Analyst Team
Apple’s annual ‘Best of 2013’ lists are out, and who doesn't like a good top 10? Apple has rounded up the best games, photography apps and fitness tools of 2013, and Juniper has decided to dive a little deeper, and see what trends and lessons can be learnt from these top-performing apps.

Paid Apps Can Include In-App Purchases, and Remain Engaging

Many developers and industry observers believe that monetising an app at the point of download, or including items for purchase post-download (in-app purchases) are mutually exclusive options. However, Apple’s Top Paid Apps list begs to differ: 7 of the top 10 paid apps also feature in-app purchases. The majority of these only charge 99c at the point of download (aside from the Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock and Bloons TD 5) however see popular in-app purchases charging up to $19.99. The lesson: If your app provides real value and enjoyment to the end user, you can employ multiple revenue channels without losing out.

The Best Apps are Tailored to Handset/Tablet Users

When the app-centric era began (with the launch of the App Store in 2008) many developers simply replicated their online offerings in the form of an app. However, it has become clear that smartphones and tablets are used in a wholly different manner to desktop computers. In its Best of 2013 list, Apple devotes a section of ‘Bite-Sized News’, promoting apps such as Circa News, which lets users follow relevant news in real-time and receive updates on pertinent stories in the form of notifications. This is perfect for those affected by, or interested in, a news story, but who are on the go, and don’t want to be repeatedly pressing ‘refresh’ on a news article. The lesson: Think carefully about how a smartphone or tablet is used differently to desktop PCs, in order to offer greater appeal to users.

The Mobile Games Market is Expanding

Juniper’s research into the mobile apps market has found that games are the most downloaded category of app, and in the majority of app stores, the games category features the greatest number of apps available. The problem of ‘discoverability’ in the stores is then heightened for games developers, who must ensure their game is recognised amongst the competition. Apple has taken a step towards assisting developers in its Best of 2013 list, segmenting games into different categories: Racing, Crafting, Multiplayer, Fast Reaction, Blockbuster and Indie. This is in contrast to its Best of 2012 list, when there were fewer games segments listed which were more vague (eg ‘Casual Games). The lesson: The mobile games market shows no signs of slowing down, as developers create more sophisticated games, and compete for downloads by innovating, or iterating popular titles. Here at Juniper we look forward to seeing what the ‘hit’ apps of 2014 will be, and witnessing the key innovations which will shape the mobile apps market for years to come.